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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

Deadly Fungus Hits Trees in Hawai'i

Deadly Fungus Hits Trees in Hawai'i


Death fungus attacks Ohio Forests, Hawaii  (credit: HI Department of Land and Natural Resources)


A deadly fungus is affecting forests in Hawai'i by attacking an ecologically and culturally important tree, the ohia lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha). Ohia forests are critical in maintaining water supplies; as habitat for rare and endangered endemic birds; and as part of Hawaiian cultural traditions such making leis and the hula.



  Ohia, Metrosideros polymorpha (credit: Univ. of HI)   T'iwi native Hawaiian bird (credit: iNaturalist, Colin Morita)

The disease is caused by the rapid ohia death fungus that has now infected hundreds of thousands of ohia trees on the Big Island. According to the Maui News, the fungus is not known anywhere else in the world so preventive actions are still in development. Besides understanding what caused the widespread infection, a concern is how to prevent the spread of the pathogen to the other Hawaiian islands. The fungal spores could be spread by plant materials, birds, or by the trade winds.

Hawaiian forest managers offered their concerns about the ohia wilt disease and suggested actions for all Hawaiians to follow in a news video. People spending Hawai'i. will take time to see some of the Island's native trees, learn from forest and range managers, and express support in some capacity than simply spending all the time at the beach.


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